I'm really excited about this series. I liked this first one a lot, especially the "strangers in a strange land" aspect, with the protagonists both beI'm really excited about this series. I liked this first one a lot, especially the "strangers in a strange land" aspect, with the protagonists both being new to Valdemar. I like Karal a lot, too. And there are ENGINEERS, and they figure magic out using MATH, which is awesome, and there are FIRECATS, which are like Companions only instead of horses they are KITTIES. Also there are sheep eyeing things dubiously. I don't know why I find it so hilarious, but I think "sheep eyed it dubiously" is the funniest sentence Mercedes Lackey ever wrote.
The only problem is this book is so obviously the first in a series. There's a lot of setup before the mage-storms actually happen, and the book ends rather abruptly. Fortunately, these books came out 20 years ago, so I can just start reading the next one right away.
Nobody gets raped in this book, which is good, but it doesn't escape my notice that the first series without any rape is the one with only male points of view. I am eyeing you dubiously, Lackey. Like the sheep....more
Aw, this one left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. I think Lackey's storytelling skills are getting stronger. In this book we meet a character who has prAw, this one left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. I think Lackey's storytelling skills are getting stronger. In this book we meet a character who has previously been hidden inside another character's mind, which is pretty cool. And there's a lot of comic relief and light moments, to balance out the ~pure evil~ of the three malicious villains. I think the balance works. I especially enjoyed the romance between Darkwind and Elspeth in this one, which is sweet without being too sappy.
Everything works out in the end, which is convenient and tropey, but I don't care because I like that trope. Better than randomly killing characters just to make the story Darker And Edgier.
There are seeds of another story being set up here, which I assume will continue in the next group of books, as we meet the dreaded ~Eastern Empire~ that caused the Kingdom of Valdemar to be formed all those years ago.
These books don't reach into my soul and change me, but they're fun and have lots of magical talking animals....more
A snowstorm swirled about the castle when the crystal was moved.
Uh... Did the Shin'a'in give Mornelithe Falconsbane a SNOW GLOBE??
I don't know why I tA snowstorm swirled about the castle when the crystal was moved.
Uh... Did the Shin'a'in give Mornelithe Falconsbane a SNOW GLOBE??
I don't know why I tend to like the second books in Lackey's trilogies the best. Maybe because we're given more of a chance to get to know the characters and their worlds, without all the PLOT! URGENCY! NON-STOP ACTION! of the first and last books.
So many new characters and interesting pairings! Herald and Tayledras, shaman and spirit-hawk, gryphon and mage-student, human and bondbird, sword and Changechild. Firesong is an awesome new character and reminds me of his forefather Vanyel, without the angst. I also liked getting to know Tre'valen and Wintermoon better, both of whom were side-characters in the first book.
A lot of plot points from previous Valdemar books are coming together in a most satisfying way. I'm excited to see where this is headed. Will Nyara be Chosen the moment she sets foot in Valdemar? Will Valdemarans be able to discuss magic again? Will there be weird rape stuff? Will we find out that everyone is the reborn spirit of everyone else? WE SHALL SEE....more
This book has a few random Tarma and Kethry stories, some of which I had already read in their other books, and one new novella about their adventuresThis book has a few random Tarma and Kethry stories, some of which I had already read in their other books, and one new novella about their adventures. I really liked the novella, maybe just for the opportunity to see how everything turned out with their magic/fighting school. Also, the girls who get kidnapped basically rescue themselves, which is awesome.
I also hadn't read the first Tarma and Kethry story, the one where they meet, before. It's funny because The Oathbound makes such a huge deal out of their sister-bond and how important it is, but in the actual story where it happens, Tarma is just like "I'm lonely, you're lonely, you wanna be sisters?" and Kethry is like "ok lol". There's not a lot of weight placed on the bond-swearing itself, even though it gives them a psychic link later. You'd think they'd notice if they were suddenly very aware of what the other one was feeling. (Maybe that was a retcon.)
Sadly, the story about the chambermaid means that even without the repeated tales (which I skipped), this trilogy is 3/3 for rape. I really hope this theme doesn't continue through the rest of the Valdemar books, but Lackey seems to really like it....more
I liked the events of this one much better than the events of The Oathbound. Spying and intrigue are much more to my taste than demon rapists. There wI liked the events of this one much better than the events of The Oathbound. Spying and intrigue are much more to my taste than demon rapists. There was rape in this one, too, which was disappointing, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as the first book.
Jadrek is a great character, Kethry's magical development is awesome, Tarma continues to be the best. I like travel stories, especially ones that involve surviving the elements. Also, there were Heralds! Well, one Herald....more
I have mixed feelings about this book. I like Darkwind and Elspeth a lot, and I like the overall storyline about Elspeth bringing magic (and the knowlI have mixed feelings about this book. I like Darkwind and Elspeth a lot, and I like the overall storyline about Elspeth bringing magic (and the knowledge of the Tayledras) back to Valdemar. I liked the whole thing with the ruined Heartstone and Darkwind's struggles with his father. All of this was good.
But I don't like how casually Lackey uses rape to get her point across. (Yes, we get it, Falconsbane is evil. Really, really evil.) I also don't like how easily rape victims in her books recover and are able to enjoy sex so soon after being raped. She treats the entire subject far too lightly, and it left a sour taste in my mouth.
Also, Skif's character, I think, was done a disservice in this book, as his entire purpose seemed to be to have a crush on Elspeth and try to treat her like a delicate flower, which doesn't seem at all in-character for the Skif that Talia knew. The snarky sword had a better character arc than Skif did in this book.
I like Valdemar, but all the rape is getting on my nerves....more
Man, once again I finish a Lackey novel and I come away loving the protagonists and side characters, but wishing the villains would be less rapetasticMan, once again I finish a Lackey novel and I come away loving the protagonists and side characters, but wishing the villains would be less rapetastic. The main antagonist is a demon who can actually make people enjoy being raped, and I'm sick of this shit. Find a new theme, please.
I think the moral of this book is "don't set foot in Valdemar unless you want to be Chosen." Because seriously.
I liked this one a lot, and not just beI think the moral of this book is "don't set foot in Valdemar unless you want to be Chosen." Because seriously.
I liked this one a lot, and not just because nobody got raped (which seems to be a rarity in Lackey novels). Kerowyn's a great protagonist, and we get to follow her from angsty teenager to seasoned veteran, and it's a wonderful ride the whole way. I especially like that she is very firm about the fact that she wants to be a mercenary and her own person, and doesn't want to settle down and get married, and definitely doesn't want kids. Tarma didn't get married because she had her sexual desire magically removed, basically, but Kerowyn doesn't want to because of who she is, and though she wonders several times what's wrong with her, I'm cheering her on at every step.
The one thing that really bugged me about this book was the chronology errors. At several points the book skipped a generation entirely, referring to Stefansen as Daren's father instead of his grandfather, for example. I hope these errors are corrected if the book ever gets a reprint, because it was really annoying.
Speaking of reprints--That cover! Kerowyn looks like someone from an 80s exercise video, with her green and purple clothes and her headband and ponytail. I love it....more
This last book in Vanyel's trilogy finally brings us his lifemate, Bard Stefen, who is wonderful. He's supposedly the reincarnation of TVaaanyeeeeeel.
This last book in Vanyel's trilogy finally brings us his lifemate, Bard Stefen, who is wonderful. He's supposedly the reincarnation of Tylendel, but who cares, he's awesome all on his own.
And the story comes full circle, as Vanyel goes through something very like the situation that was Tylendel's undoing in the first book. It's painful to read, especially since you know what's coming, but Vanyel manages to avoid going down the same revenge-driven path as Tylendel—interestingly enough, he is shaken out of his vengeful state partly by the actions of his enemy, which just goes to show that evil contains the seeds of its own destruction, although Stefen's love for him is an essential part of it as well. And Yfandes. Poor underappreciated Yfandes.
I want to know more about the origins of this Lord of Darkness or whatever. Where did he come from? Why does he look like the Tayledras? Was he really responsible for Tylendel's death and Vanyel's almost-suicide? We never get to find out, sadly. Maybe his story is in another book. (Also, who was Stefen's family? Or did he really just spring into existence fully-formed, out of Tylendel's forehead or something?)
The villains in this book are pretty cartoonishly evil, especially the dirty rapist bandits. I mean, come on.
Because of Bard Stefen, this was the first time I actually read through the songs in the back of the book, and found that I quite liked them....more
We catch up with Vanyel over a decade after the events of Magic's Pawn, which is quite a leap. In the intervening years he's gotten his magic sorted oWe catch up with Vanyel over a decade after the events of Magic's Pawn, which is quite a leap. In the intervening years he's gotten his magic sorted out, become the top Herald-Mage in Valdemar, and fathered MULTIPLE CHILDREN(!?). I kept feeling like I had missed a book in between the two.
The book contains an intricate plot to take down a royal family, and lots of impressive magic, but the heart of the story is Vanyel's emotional development. He still struggles with loneliness, even more now that he's The Legendary Herald-Mage and people react to him with fear as soon as they learn who he is. He returns to his family, and discovers that the villains of his childhood are more complex than he ever imagined. He makes a little more progress on his journey to emotional wholeness, although he's not quite there yet, and I kind of want to hit him over the head with a clue-by-four—but hopefully the events of the next book will do that for me.
Vanyel's a Herald, and a legendary one, but I like that we see him struggle with what this means. He's not magically selfless and self-sacrificing all the time. He's tempted by his own desires more than once. He has to decide, over and over again, to do the right thing, to live up to the promise of being a Herald, and it's not easy.
These Kindle versions are pretty terribly ebookified....more
When I read Arrows of the Queen, I didn't know that the book Talia is reading at the beginning was actually going to be a story we'd geAww, bb!Vanyel.
When I read Arrows of the Queen, I didn't know that the book Talia is reading at the beginning was actually going to be a story we'd get to read! Vanyel is mentioned a bunch of times throughout Talia's story, so we know a bit about what is going to happen to him and what he'll do, but not how he gets there.
Warning: this book has a lot of teen angst, and if you don't like that sort of thing, you should stay away from this book. Basically, horrible things keep happening to Vanyel, so it's justified teen angst, at least. And a lot of what he goes through as a gay teen is stuff gay teenagers go through in real life. Granted, most of them don't live in a world with telepathic horses, but that stuff comes later. In the beginning, Vanyel is just a kid, a kid with a horrible father who wants him to be ~MANLY~, and all he knows is it's making him miserable.
I was actually pretty surprised that Vanyel goes through at least half the book with no magic horse AND no magic powers whatsoever, given that this series is called "The Last Herald-Mage." That all comes to him at the height of his greatest trauma and tragedy, so he's not exactly in a position to deal with it. He has to deal with deep grief AND uncontrollable magic at the same time, and it takes him a long time to come to terms with both.
It's an interesting beginning to the life of someone we know is going to become a legend....more
Being home sick gives you lots of time to read books about magical horses. This one isn't as strong as the previous, but in my stuffed-up state it wasBeing home sick gives you lots of time to read books about magical horses. This one isn't as strong as the previous, but in my stuffed-up state it was entertaining enough.
(view spoiler)[A lot of the rape stuff rubbed me the wrong way. I wished a little more time had been dedicated to Talia's recovery at the end, when she discovered that she couldn't be touched without picturing her rapists, but instead it was just like "just go away for a few weeks, and when you come back she'll be fine!" And she was. Must be nice to have a dedicated team of magical healers helping you.
Worse, Talia told Dirk that Lady Whatsherface had "mind-raped" him by rejecting him so harshly (this, mind you, in a series that contains actual literal violations of people's rights to their private thoughts and feelings, a lot of that DONE by Talia), and that this was WORSE than the physical rape she endured. Yeah, nope. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked this one a lot. It has everything: Friendship, sex, a hint of romance, magic, angst, poetic justice, survival in extreme weather, sentient forI liked this one a lot. It has everything: Friendship, sex, a hint of romance, magic, angst, poetic justice, survival in extreme weather, sentient forests, singing llamas......more
So this was pretty awesome. For a book that's so obviously fantasy, the first half of the book has VERY little magic. It's more of a military book, whSo this was pretty awesome. For a book that's so obviously fantasy, the first half of the book has VERY little magic. It's more of a military book, which isn't what I'm used to reading, but it did bring back fond memories of Horatio Hornblower. The battles were clearly explained and, for the most part, easy to follow, even for a clueless civilian like me.
Hey, do you like women dressing up as men so they can go fight in the army? I know you do. Winter Ihernglass is a wonderful addition to the canon, and I'm so glad she's one of the PoV characters. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the number and agency of the women in this book, which is pretty sad--that my expectations for male-penned fantasy books are so low, that is. But exactly zero women were just there to be The Love Interest of a male character, and they all had major parts to play. And they talked to each other! Amazing!
Anyway, the magic is fun when it finally shows up, and the worldbuilding is interesting enough, but the real strength of this book is the characters. I can't wait to read the rest....more